An earlier version of this blog post about great desserts appeared on Yahoo Voices. Since Yahoo Voices is no longer among the living, I updated and resurrected it – because … dessert! Be sure to chip in with your favorites in the comments.\
I recently wound up at a Cheesecake Factory for a work function. And it’s not quite right to go to a place named after cheesecake and not try some.
A slice of milquetoast chocolate-coconut cheesecake and a boatload of calories later, I wondered who’d stolen the flavor from my dessert. It was so bland that I had to pine away for the great desserts I’ve eaten while traveling. If you’re planning to travel, scan this list and see if you’ll wind up near them. If you do, be sure to drop in for some seriously fine desserts.
Finale – There’s obviously more to Boston than baked beans. Or even Boston cream pie. If it’s great desserts you want, get to one of the three Finale Desserterie & Bakery locations. Try a sampler platter – there are too many goodies on the menu to pick just one. My dining party outvoted me, but I would’ve gone for the Retro Chocolate platter. I didn’t mind our sampler platter – I just thought it contained a few tame choices and too many things with berries: When I eat dessert, I load up on the chocolate. The chocolate lava cake was the standout.
Mungalli Creek Dairy – I blame this little dairy in the remote Atherton Table Lands of Australia for ruining all other cheesecakes for me. Ever since trying the Sicilian cheesecake (whole-milk ricotta, orange glace, flecks of dark chocolate, cinnamon cookie crust) at Mungalli Creek Dairy, every other cheesecake I’ve sampled disappoints me. Maybe there’s something about making cheesecake from the milk of cows that are wandering around. Just getting there adds to the adventure – it’s a few hours away from Cairns near the town of Yungaburra. And it will involve a trip through the hills on a narrow country road.
Patagonia Chocolates – Queenstown, NZ, is mostly known for its adventure sports. A few more places like Patagonia Chocolates could also put the scenic city on the map for great desserts. For me, the star at Patagonia is the ice cream. The banana split flavor isn’t what Americans might expect since it lacked strawberry, focusing mostly on banana and chocolate flavors. I was only in Queenstown for a two days, but made three stops at Patagonia for ice cream.
Sufistin Kaffihus – It takes about 15 minutes by bus to reach Sufistin Kaffihus from Reykjavik. And it’s worth all the uncertainty of wondering which stop is the right one for those of us still flummoxed by the Icelandic language. The chocolate-coconut cake there was worth every calorie – it was sweet enough to be a proper dessert, but not so cloying that it was a chore to finish the last bite. It was also fairly light despite its richness. It was all about balanced sensations and letting the individual ingredients shine through. Sufistin doesn’t have a Web site – but you’ll find it near The Viking Hotel in Hafnarfjörder.
Ægir microbrewery – There’s a lot to praise about this brewery in Norway – first, it looks like a historic stave church. Inside, you could imagine vikings trying to drink each other under the table. The beer is excellent, too. But this is all about great desserts, so let’s talk about the chocolate brownie … we had it drizzled with some raspberry sauce. A scoop of raspberry ice cream topped it off nicely. It pairs very well with any dark beers on the tap list (the lineup changes frequently).
Cornish Pasty Co – When I want a serious dessert, I go to the nearest of the three Cornish Pasty Co. locations in the Phoenix area (there’s also a The Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas). I usually get a chocolate bread-and-butter pudding if I want a big dose of chocolate. Otherwise, I go for a banoffee pie – never heard of it? The Cornish Pasty Co. version is a collision of bananas, caramel, graham crackers and made-right-there fresh whipped cream. There are other desserts, too, but these are my standouts. Hint: Only the hugest appetites will be able to manage eating a pasty and a dessert.